Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different...

MENU PLANNER

March 18, 2001|By Susan Nicholson | Susan Nicholson,Universal Press Syndicate

Each day of the week offers a menu aimed at a different aspect of meal planning. There's a family meal, a kids' menu aimed at younger tastes, a heat-and-eat meal that recycles leftovers, a budget meal that employs a cost-cutting strategy, a meatless or "less meat" dish for people who may not be strict vegetarians but are trying to cut down on meat, an express meal that requires little or no preparation, and an entertaining menu that's quick.

SUNDAY / Family

Prepare your own juicy Roast Chicken for the family. Choose a 5- or 6-pound hen for the best flavor. (To save calories, discard the chicken skin and visible fat before eating.)

Serve with Couscous With Chickpeas and Mint. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon olive oil and bring to a boil. Add 1 10-ounce box of couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add 1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained chickpeas or garbanzo beans and 1/3 cup store-bought mango chutney; mix well and cover. Just before serving, stir in 1 / 4 cup chopped mint and 3 thinly sliced scallions (white part and 2 inches of green).

Add steamed fresh brussels sprouts and dinner rolls. Buy a lemon meringue pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and some pie for Monday.

MONDAY / Heat & Eat

Pretend you're on the beach in Hawaii enjoying Hula Chicken Salad Wraps. Yes, it's a stretch. Serve with rice.

For dessert, offer leftover pie.

Plan ahead: Prepare enough rice; label and freeze it for Saturday.

Hula Chicken Salad Wraps

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 / 4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 1/2 cups chopped cooked (leftover) chicken

1 20-ounce can well-drained crushed pineapple

1 / 4 cup chopped cilantro

2 sliced scallions

2 large (10- to 12-inch) 99 percent fat-free tortillas

1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves

1/2 7 1/2 -ounce jar roasted red peppers (blotted dry)

For the dressing: in a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, soy sauce, ginger and oil. For the salad: In a medium bowl, mix together chicken, pineapple, cilantro and scallions. Add dressing and stir to mix. Place tortillas on flat surface. Spread chicken salad on bottom half of each tortilla. Top chicken with layers of spinach. Follow with layers of red pepper (over spinach). Roll tightly, folding in edges. Cut in half or quarters.

Per cup: 279 calories, 18 grams protein, 6 grams fat (18 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 42 milligrams cholesterol, 696 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

TUESDAY / Meatless

Enjoy flavorful and filling Lentil and Macaroni Soup that's packed with lots of vegetables and fiber.

Serve with your own grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches. Add a mixed-green salad. Buy brownies for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Wednesday.

Lentil and Macaroni Soup

Makes 12 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

cooking spray

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 8- or 10-ounce package shredded carrots

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed in a press

1 14 1/2 -ounce can whole tomatoes in puree

1 14 1/2 -ounce can vegetable broth

3 / 4 cup rinsed lentils

1 / 4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 / 4 teaspoon dried thyme

6 cups water

1 10-ounce package baby spinach leaves, stems removed

3 / 4 cup elbow macaroni (about 3 ounces)

1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

In a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add carrots, onion and garlic and cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened; stir occasionally. Add tomatoes and puree, broth, lentils, salt, pepper, thyme and water; heat to boiling, stirring to break up tomatoes. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are almost tender. Stir in spinach and macaroni; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until macaroni is tender. Stir in basil. Ladle into bowls. Pass the Parmesan at the table, if using.

Per cup: 107 calories, 6 grams protein, 2 grams fat (13 percent calories from fat), 0.2 grams saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 344 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

WEDNESDAY / Budget

Eggs pack a flavor wallop and are economical at the same time, so this Sausage and Vegetable Frittata does double duty. Serve it with a spinach salad and toasted English muffins. For dessert, leftover brownies paired with sliced peaches are a perfect dessert.

Sausage and Vegetable Frittata

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes

7 ounces reduced-fat sausage with casing removed

1 medium chopped zucchini squash

1 large chopped red bell pepper

4 large whole eggs

4 egg whites

1 cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese

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